When someone uses or otherwise steals someone else’s Social Security number, it’s not the same as stealing another person’s checkbook or credit card, but the damage can be just as bad if not worse. A victim can go out and open a new bank account or get a new credit card if either of those are stolen, but people can rarely get a replacement Social Security number – that’s the major difference.
Social Security numbers are issued by the Social Security Administration (SSA) for identity-tracking purposes. Whenever someone starts a new job, files taxes, opens a new credit card or bank account, or applies for government benefits, they need their Social Security number. Social Security numbers are used to verify people’s identities and record their earnings.
Social Security Number Theft
In the past, it was common for people’s Social Security numbers to be stolen when thieves found Social Security cards in stolen wallets, but nowadays, Social Security numbers are stolen in a variety of ways, such as:
- Data breaches
- Sifting through people’s trash
- Sifting through people’s personal documents
Stolen SSNs are used by thieves for the purpose of immigration fraud, benefits fraud, tax fraud, selling the victim’s identity to the highest bidder, receiving medical care, filing a fraudulent tax refund, opening bank accounts, taking out credit cards, applying for unemployment or disability benefits, and other forms of identity theft.
Once an identity thief steals an SSN, they can commit all kinds of financial fraud and leave the victim on the hook for it, often ruining the victim’s credit or FICO score in the process.
In addition to using a victim’s SSN for financial crimes, a thief can give the victim’s SSN to law enforcement when they’re arrested for a crime. In effect, the victim’s SSN can be tied into a full-blown criminal record history, which can affect their educational, housing, and employment possibilities.
Are you accused of stealing or using someone else’s Social Security number and are you now facing criminal charges for it? If so, contact the Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed at (510) 907-6600 for a consultation.